Is Social Isolation Really That Bad?

Author: blamonkey ,

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  • blamonkey
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    I am definitely not the first to recognize this, but it seems that in modern American society, being alone is synonymous with emotional and psychological problems. Media representations of those who withdraw from society seem to characterize these loners as social deviants with misanthropic tendencies (i.e. refusing to engage with peers.) 

    While there are plenty of silent misanthropes who want nothing to do with other people, it should be noted that the relationship between social isolation and psychological harm is more nuanced than most people think. There is extensive evidence from medical journals that show the increased risk of cardiovascular complications and suicide on account of perceived loneliness. Yet, most people neglect to mention the limits to our current research. BBC provided a wonderful explanation of the issue in their article exploring common myths about loneliness. They mention that most of the studies conducted are performed on a cross-section (essentially a snapshot) of a population in any given point in time. In other words post hoc ergo propter hoc, or correlation does not always indicate causation. Other factors, including socioeconomic health, the household that someone grows up in, and the society in which one lives could potentially impact the health conditions of people in the future more than perceived loneliness.


    Also, there is the operative word: perceived. I could be surrounded by friends and still consider myself lonely due to many superficial relationships as opposed to a few deep connections. Introverts with less social engagement can still have fulfilling relationships with others. Also, when people feel less obliged to spend time with others, they can use that time to study or work more. If one were to be objective, roughly 90% of the people that we talk to on a daily basis are not important to our well-being. How many people pay you, give you good grades, or could possibly be used to negotiate your way into a higher paying job? While some relationships are necessary to maintain normal cognitive functioning and not spiral into depression, there are plenty of people who are just worthless to the survival of someone.

    While not studied often, there are cited benefits of social isolation. Jack Fong of the California Polytechnic University explains that:

    "When people are experiencing crisis it’s not always just about you: It’s about how you are in society... " "When people take these moments to explore their solitude, not only will they be forced to confront who they are, they just might learn a little bit about how to out-maneuver some of the toxicity that surrounds them in a social setting."

    When people are removed from the context of society, they can analyze their actions and behavior better, often having a therapeutic effect. In fact, there are documented incidents of this therapeutic effect helping people. The Atlantic recounts the story of Italian author and journalist Tiziano Terzani, who isolated himself for years only to feel less anxious as a person. He declared:

    “At last I had time to have time.”

    In no way am I suggesting that social isolation is always healthy. However, it seems to be unfairly stigmatized. 
    Thoughts?


  • coal
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    I need a lot of time to myself.  
  • blamonkey
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    I just realized that some of what I posted seems caustic. When I claimed that people were not needed for people in the long run, I meant that when we converse with people, it is an opportunity cost. 
  • RationalMadman
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    The kind of loneliness those tests refers to is when you got 0 or just 1 who barely is around.

    I am talking where you got 0 to run to, cry to, talk about job worries or just anything at all like someone close to you dying or something.

    When you got 0 people to turn to, THEN loneliness is toxic no matter how introverted you are. Everyone needs one person, even the loner stereotype who is in his mothers' basement needs that mother.
  • SupaDudz
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    Social Isolation is the leading cause of suicide, as they feel they have no one to turn too.
  • mustardness
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    --> @SupaDudz
    Social Isolation is the leading cause of suicide, as they feel they have no one to turn too.
    Social mingling helps to building immune system. Especially at young age.

    What doesnt kill you will make you stronger. No pain no gain.

    Social mingling helps round off any sharp edges we may have and whether we are aware of them or not.

    There is a time for introversion and a time for extroversion.

    See Fullers Old Man River design for crater-like city. When feeling extroverted humans go to the outside { living quarters } and can see outward.

    When feeling introverted humans can go to inside of crater city and with binoculars can find anyone their looking for if there also out in the open.


  • Polytheist-Witch
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    --> @blamonkey
    Depends on the individual. Some people can do it, some find it overbearing. The problem with being a loner is you are labeled anti social. 
  • IlDiavolo
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    Human beings are social animals, what can you expect?

    However, meditation has somehow proved that it's possible to overcome loneliness and even isolation. Budhist monks are used to spent long periods of isolation, just to give an example. Besides they claim it's a good thing, lol. So yes, it's possible to get isolated without suffering from depression or this kind of mental problems.

89 days later

  • Death23
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    --> @blamonkey
    I moved to a new area not too long ago. All I do is work mostly. I haven't put much effort in to improving my social life. It's not a priority for me, and honestly I don't see what benefit there would be given that spending time with friends means less time spent working.
  • K_Michael
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    One of the greatest aggravations of my life is that most people find it impossible to look at a person who is alone and not label him/her/etc. as lonely.

    Alone does not mean lonely. I cannot emphasize this enough.
  • blamonkey
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    --> @K_Michael
    I cannot agree more. I didn't think that this post would garner as much attention as it did. I kind of expected it to phase into obscurity with no responses at all.
  • TheRealNihilist
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    --> @blamonkey
    My stance is that the world that we live in does not help introverts or whatever social isolationists would be called whether it is due to system to capitalism or not. Its priority is people who do well in a community they are in which in return means they can improve their social standing and have a greater pool of people to pick from as relationship material. The downside is of course it will increase the chance of people being obsessed and going to a point to follow you wherever you go but that is a small penalty compared to not doing well in a social community. An introvert tends to be less valued by their peers and by having less friends they have less people to rely on when they have an issue they need help with. This can lead to introverts being good at being independent but I argue that tends not to be the case. Instead it leads to depression by a feeling of not really belonging somewhere. 

    About the topic: It is justified why introverts are looked down upon. They are less valuable in economies, in relationships and advancing change. This all needed into making a functioning society where an extrovert tends to provide these benefits. If there was a way in which introverts can be valuable in society then it wouldn't be a problem. There are introverts using applications like Twitch and YouTube. I think people who use this site if an introvert start as an introvert but when they become accustomed to what they are doing they valuable in society due to their extroverted side.

    I think I addressed what you said or at least I hope I did. This can be seen as an appeal to nature somewhat but I don't know how to phrase it better so forgive me if it can be seen as that.  

27 days later

  • Christen
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    Don't confuse introverts with misanthropes. Introverts are people who expend energy socializing with others and need to regain it by being alone. Misanthropes avoid and irrationally fear others entirely.

    An introvert tends to be less valued by their peers and by having less friends they have less people to rely on when they have an issue they need help with. This can lead to introverts being good at being independent but I argue that tends not to be the case. Instead it leads to depression by a feeling of not really belonging somewhere.
    This is because we introverts know that we can't always depend on others, and that being an extrovert can lead to you depending on others to a point where you will just get depressed even harder since you're so used to others. Not only that, but when you're an introvert, it's easier to concentrate on things like schoolwork, because you aren't worrying so much about "peers".

    About the topic: It is justified why introverts are looked down upon. They are less valuable in economies, in relationships and advancing change. This all needed into making a functioning society where an extrovert tends to provide these benefits. If there was a way in which introverts can be valuable in society then it wouldn't be a problem.
    How exactly are introverts "less valuable in economies, in relationships and advancing change"??

305 days later

  • blamonkey
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    Well, this has become relevant again. I'd like a hearty congratulations for being ahead of the curb on this one.

17 days later

  • skittlez09
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    --> @blamonkey
    bump 

    this discussion was ahead of its time and has aged like fine wine 
  • blamonkey
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    --> @skittlez09
    Thank you! If I knew this was going to be topical now, I would have saved it and made the forum thread a few weeks ago.